This is the fourth installment of Reflections & Lessons from 40 Years of Marriage. Today I am focusing on the no-brainer aspects of communication in marriage. They should go without saying, but it is often the disregard of these simple nuances that end up being “the little foxes that spoil the vines.” (Song of Solomon 2:15) Check out the previous three days for the first six points.
7. Communicate – Share your life with one another by taking time daily to communicate. Hebrews 13:16 says “to communicate, forget not!” This is obviously a bigger challenge for many men. Researchers have found that women speak two to three times as many words in a day as men. Men also have that tendency to retreat into a cave of silence when pressures mount and wives just love that. Not!
Taking time at the start of the day to share one another’s calendar and plans for the day goes a long way toward harmonious marital relationship. Communicate the plans and the time commitments you have made or are making, especially if it includes them!
Include them in as much future calendar planning as you can. Tell them where you are going and when you plan on getting back. And then tell them where you have been and what you have been doing. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Take time at the end of the day to catch up with one another and communicate how the day has gone. As a man, I find it takes an extra effort to recall and recount the things that have happened during my day. Most of it I have already buried deep in the brief case of my mind or I would just as soon put in the paper shredder and forget about it all together. But, and that is an important “but” – opening up the brief case nonetheless is an act of love. Having a love perspective will make a huge difference in your marriage.
If you must retreat to the cave, try to explain it. Explain as best you can when you are going into the cave and when you hope to come out.
If you can, tell her why you are going into the cave. Believe me – you can tell her why you are so quiet and why you are so moody. Tell her what is troubling you and why you are so touchy. Tell her why you are so preoccupied. Communicate! If you don’t communicate, she will take a hit. She will feel ignored, blamed, hurt, unloved or __________. Not good!
8. Be Attentive – Listen. Be there for one another. Show your love and support by being attentive to what they are saying and what they are doing. Look for ways to be helpful. Support what they are doing. Lend a helping hand. Cancel your plans or put things on hold if they need you.
Put into practice what you learned in kindergarten. Stop, look and listen! Stop what you are doing, look at them and listen. Stop being so preoccupied and be attentive to their demeanor, their body language. Look at how they are acting, look into their eyes. Are they troubled? Are they distant? Are they fearful or upset? What do they want? More importantly, what do they need? Why are they saying this to you?
Listen… think about what they are saying. Don’t start formulating your answer until they are done speaking. “He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame.” Proverbs 18:13
Stop what you are doing and listen to what they are saying. Mute the TV, look at them, put down the newspaper. Turn away from your computer and look at them. Put you iPod on pause, listen to them. Turn off the radio and listen to them. Put down that project you are working on, turn and listen to them. Give them your full attention both with your ears and eyes.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
There is more to come . . . stay tuned.
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